The American Kidney Fund (AKF) does what no other nonprofit does—we provide the financial safety net for our nation’s dialysis patients, helping people cope with an extremely challenging, life-threatening condition—while also working to prevent new cases of kidney disease.
Nearly half a million people in this country have kidney failure and rely on dialysis to survive. We’re dedicated to ensuring that every patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. It’s important to have the accurate facts about our program.
The American Kidney Fund was created almost 50 years ago to address the uniquely challenging circumstances facing dialysis patients. Kidney failure is a life-changing disease that forces patients into dialysis treatment three times a week and often robs them of their ability to work and to lead the kind of productive lives they and their loved ones want. For the nearly 100,000 patients who turn to AKF each year, our advocacy and support stand between them and financial ruin. Surely these patients deserve that.
Kidney failure devastates people physically, emotionally and financially. For nearly 50 years, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) has been the safety net for low-income dialysis patients, helping them afford access to the health care that keeps them alive. One of our programs, the Health Insurance Premium Program, makes sure that low-income dialysis patients can afford their health insurance.
Our insurance premium assistance is what makes it possible for many dialysis patients to qualify for the transplant waiting list, go through the workup process, and have the transplant surgery. Without comprehensive insurance, these patients would not be able to have a transplant.
While most of our grant recipients are on Medicare, for some people with kidney failure, commercial insurance—through an employer group health plan, COBRA or the marketplace exchanges—is the better option. People with kidney failure who want and need private insurance should be able to get it, just as Congress has affirmed for decades. We believe it’s every patient’s right to choose the coverage that best meets their needs, and AKF’s program makes options possible for people who otherwise could not afford to make a choice.
Medicare alone is not enough to cover medical costs for people living with kidney failure. A supplemental plan is needed to cover the 20 percent out-of-pocket costs that have no lifetime cap under Medicare. In about half the states, insurers are not required to offer Medigap insurance (which helps cover copayment, coinsurance and deductibles) to kidney failure patients under age 65. More than 92,000 dialysis patients under 65 live in these states. There are also many challenges facing ESRD patients on Medicaid, including difficulty accessing specialists and a lack of coverage of needed benefits in many states. There are no annual limits on Medicare out of pocket costs.
We help patients who are in financial need, without regard to who their dialysis provider is. The median household income of our grant recipients is only $20,000 per year. Without our help, these patients would not be able to afford health insurance, including their premiums for Medicare Part B and Medigap. We have never turned away a patient in need who qualified financially, regardless of which provider or insurance they choose. The welfare of the patient is our only concern.
The federal government has outlined standards, which include strict firewalls that separate donations to AKF from all determinations of patient eligibility for assistance, and we operate HIPP in alignment with these standards. This ensures that patients are free to change their health care providers at any time without losing access to our grants.
Our Health Insurance Premium Program has grown significantly in 20 years because of the explosion in the number of people living with kidney failure. Just since the year 2000, this population has grown by 74 percent. In 2016, all of our grant programs helped more than 98,000 people—1 out of every 5 U.S. dialysis patients—access lifesaving health care, including 82,000 who would not be able to afford their health insurance without our help.
The American Kidney Fund provides payment for patients who cannot otherwise afford insurance to maintain coverage that is essential for their care through our Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP). There has been growing pressure by the insurance industry to curtail third-party payment of premiums on behalf of patients. We believe it important that public discourse around this very important issue for kidney patients be informed by facts.
We are supported by 63,000 caring individual donors, as well as corporations and foundations. Ninety-seven cents of every donated dollar funds our programs and services—direct financial assistance, kidney disease education, prevention and clinical research—not administrative overhead. The nation’s charity watchdogs have ranked AKF among the most trusted nonprofits for 15 years running.
- American Kidney Fund Statement on Congressional Letter to Secretary Price
- AKF statement regarding our payment of insurance premium assistance grants to patients
- AKF comment letter urges HHS to withdraw rule that will harm ESRD patients
- AKF comments on 2018 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP)
- Attachment to AKF comments on NBPP
- AKF comments to CMS on Third-Party Payment Request for Information (RFI)
- Attachments to AKF comments on RFI
- AKF statement: Patient rights, third-party payments and the CMS RFI
- Even the Insured Often Can't Afford Their Medical Bills (The Atlantic)
- Congressional letter urges HHS to protect charitable premium assistance (Nephrology News & Issues)
- Health Care Reform Efforts Must Reassure Patients (RealClearHealth)
- Whether Repeal or Replace, Real People Are at the Center of the Policy Storm (Morning Consult)
- Allow charitable aid for kidney disease (Chicago Sun Times)
- Don’t abandon people with kidney disease (News & Record)
- Safety net (NewsOK)
- Texas Judge Upends Effort To Limit Charity Funding For Kidney Care (NPR)
- Power to the Insurers (Morning Consult)
- Preserving low-income dialysis patient access to health care: American Kidney Fund announces enhanced safeguards for its Health Insurance Premium Program
- American Kidney Fund asks CMS to protect ESRD patients’ rights to insurance choice and charitable assistance
- Insurance justice for kidney failure patients (Huffington Post)
- Press release: American Kidney Fund urges CMS to protect low-income disabled ESRD patients from insurers’ discriminatory efforts to shift them to taxpayer-funded health care
- Charitable assistance: the new ‘pre-existing condition’ (The Hill)
- CMS must protect vulnerable populations in new rules for third-party premium support (Modern Healthcare)